Sheffield, 23rd April 2017 – Meeting Report and Photos

The first visit of the year to Sheffield drew 32 cars for the World Championship qualifying round. A two thirds format adopted; heat 1 field 21 cars with John Wright (348) starting on pole. Karl Hawkins (175) made his first appearance of the year in a smart refurbished car and it was great to see Mal Brown (34) on track for his first meeting also. The early stages saw Hawkins lose out in a spin turn 1; whilst the Stuart Smith (390) had made a great start and was flying around the Owlerton Shale. Frankie Wainman JNR ( 1) and Mat Newson (16) had settled into a developing battle, trading places, but back up the front and 348 led the way. Dan Johnson (4) was now joined the battle with Wainman just as the halfway stage was signaled.

Wright, Elliott Smith (293) and Mark Woodhull (335) the top three, meanwhile, Johnson moved Brown wide in turn 3, Brown would lose out further in turn 1 hooking up with Newson. A stray marker tyre had been moved out in to the back straight racing line catching out Richard Woods (268) and Jack France (216). Smith seized his opportunity and moved the 293 and 335 machines in the commotion and rising dust. The laps wound down and 390 gradually reeled in the leader. Wright not giving an inch, held his line as Smith bear down. The bumper duly went in and Smith forcefully took the lead and eventually the win with Wright holding on to a well-deserved second place.

Result: 390, 348, 335, 4, 1, 293, 16, 445, 34, 462, 192, 169

The refurbished car of 175 Karl Hawkins makes its first 2017 appearance.

20 cars started heat 2, John Wright (348) once again led the field away from pole. Mark Clayton (225) spun out in the back straight, the charging pack narrowly avoiding, the carnage was a natural result as cars scattered to avoid; Craig Finnikin (55) the main victim, flew backwards in to the turn 3 fence. At the other end of the track in turn 1; Frankie Wainman JNR (1), Elliott Smith (293) and Richard Bryan (238) all tripped over one another and ended in the wires; the number 1 machine suffering significant front end damage in the process. Stuart Smith JNR (390) made rapid progress up the order and moved an equally hard charging Mark Gilbank (21) in turn 3.

Waved yellows were called just as Gilbank put away Smith (293) in to the turn 1 fence. At the restart, the top five were: 348, 313, 73, 259, 390. The green flag fell once more, the dust rose and 390 was again making progress up the places, moving by 259 and then punting Rob Cowley (73) wide in turn 3. Smith (390) then set his sights on the leader; moving Wright to take over the running, Wright was then collected by Paul Hines (259) dropping the 348 machine down the order. Gilbank made his way by Hines just before the halfway stage. 390 21 259 your leading trio, but as the laps dwindled down; Mat Newson (16) reeled in the Hines machine, the pair enjoining a short end of race battle, Newson eventually getting the better of Hines, moving him aside in turn 1. SSJ took the win, Gilbank finished back in second and Newson third.

Result: 390, 21, 16, 259, 84, 212, 166, 55, 348, 293, 238, 73

A second win of the day for SSJ in Heat 2, with early leader 348 finishing 9th.

Heat 3 took to the track with 21 cars; with no white graders it meant Russell Cooper (415) was the man on pole. Scott Davids (462) took an early spin before reaching the green flag, Mark Clayton (225) mirroring this with a spin in turn 1. Nigel Green (445) was an early casualty, suffering a flat OSR. James Morris (463) and Bobby Griffin (166) were getting better acquainted, tangling in turn 1, the commotion saw Rob Cowley (73) get squeezed wide out to the fence in the back straight. This disorder bunched the field up allowing the Mark Gilbank (21) machine to barge his way by, bundling Karl Roberts (313) wide; the waved yellows were called for Cowley.

At the restart 415, 192, 21 were your leaders after a rolling lap behind the watering truck. 21 quickly got by Luke Dennis (192) and then took a dive on 415 in to turn 1. Further back, Craig Finnikin (55) moved Dan Johnson (4) and Roberts wide to get in to the top three. The halfway stage was signaled with Gilbank out in front. Tom Harris (84) was struggling to move Mal Brown (34) over, with Danny Wainman (212) In close company, Harris bumpered Brown unsuccessfully a number of times, trying to sneak up the inside, Brown shut the door on Harris. Wainman clipped Harris back wheel, spinning off in the process. In the final stages, Cooper took a trip to the turn 1 fence, whilst at the other end, 84 lunged in on Brown taking the 34 car to the turn 3 wires, securing fourth position. In the final lap, Roberts survived a last bender from Billy Johnson (169), but the winner was 21 by some margin.

Result: 21, 55, 4, 84, 259, 25, 192, 212, 313, 169, 555, 34

Russell Cooper leads away the restart in Heat 3.

The feature Final of the day drew 26 cars back out, John Wright (348) starting pole position once again. Rob Cowley (73) was in trouble again after getting swamped by cars at the start, collected the home straight fence; the field scatted as they took avoiding action with cars heading in all directions. The fence drew in more cars when Richard Bryan (238) and Craig Finnikin (55) visited the turn 1 wires. 348 your leader in the early stages, with Mark Clayton (225) and Karl Roberts (313) rounding the top three.  Further commotion in the back straight when a number of cars were tangled and were pushed the length of the straight in to turn 3, Bobby Griffin (166) and Mark Woodhull (335) coming off the worst.

Previous heat winner Mark Gilbank (21) retired at this point with a puncture, whilst Stuart Smith JNR (390) shunted Bradley Harrison (25) wide. Tom Harris (84) was the next high profile retirement with a flat OSR. Wright was well clear in the lead, just as SSJ, who was clearly ‘on it’ took second from Elliott Smith (293). Karl Hawkins (175) took a trip to the turn 1 fence, ripping a wheel off, prompting a yellow flag caution. The top five on the restart: 348 390 16 1 293. 293’s position though was short lived, collecting the home straight fence with 25.

Battle ensured between 390 16 and 1; all pushing into turn 1. SSJ got the bend wrong and half spun; dropping down the order. Waved yellows again and the top three saw a complete change with 16 1 313 leading them away. The green flag dropped again and the dust rose. Roberts spun around in turn 1; Dan Johnson (4) nearly doing the same, but just saved It without losing too much time.  SSJ was back to fifth and lunged on fourth place Danny Wainman (212) in to turn 1.

Halfway stage and Danny Wainman was now in to third. SSJ got by Wainman but Smith lost time in turn 1 after going wide, letting 212 back by. The race settling in to calmer rhythm and the lap boards were soon out; 390 took a chance and tried to launch 212 and 313 together, but instead missed the connection and fenced himself. Back up front and Newson was having an unchallenged drive in 1st, and that’s how it remained to the chequered flag, FWJ coming home second unable to close the gap and Danny Wainman held on to third.

Result: 16, 1, 212, 4, 259, 445, 34, 169, 192, 348, 555, NOF

Mat Newson (16) fighting to the front in the final

The Grand National saw 22 cars back on track for action, Mat Newson (16) taking the obligatory lap handicap. No whites once again meant Elliott Smith (293) started pole. Karl Roberts (313) and Richard Bryan (238), early causalities, tangled in turn 1, but both managed to keep going in the right direction. Carnage followed in turn 3; Smith took a trip to the fence whilst Mark Woodhull (335) spun around collected by Mark Clayton (225), whilst Will Hunter (220) and Mal Brown (34) also crashed out, the field once again had to taking action to avoid. The next bend and FWJ (1) was fenced hard by Tom Harris (84) in turn 1, ending Wainman’s race.

Waved yellows were once again called for, you leaders: 313 259 390 55. At the green Paul Hines (259) passed 313. Mark Gilbank (21) also capitalised and lunged on Karl Roberts 313 but Gilbank spins out, the 21 machine was then collected by Craig Finnikin (55) in turn 3. 238 collects the fence and at this point the waved yellows were once again called for due to debris. The top three were now: 390 259 4. Hines lost out after the green, being shunted wide by Dan Johnson (4). Nigel Green (445) put Scott Davids (462) out wide in turn 1, whilst Johnson moved SSJ in turn 1 to take the lead, SSJ was thrown off for enough time to also allow 445 to squeeze through.

SSJ, determined to get back on the back of Green, went out too wide in turn 1 and fenced himself, getting collected by 84 in the process. Harris made swift recovery and as the laps ticked by shunted Hines wide to take fourth. Waved yellows were once again called for, the top five on the restart: 4 445 16 84 21. The green flag and the lap boards wound down, the only change in the top five saw Gilbank move Harris wide to take fourth, as the track slicked none of the front runner able to close in more to mount a challenge. Johnson taking the win, ahead of Green and Newson who came home a credible third position from the handicap.

Result: 4, 445, 16, 21, 84, 259, 212, 169, 555, 238, NOF

390 misjudges a move on 445 and ends up in the fence

Words: Keith Organ
Photos: Colin Casserley

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